A GROUP of 26 walkers plus dogs Bruno and Ramakin turned out to meet Joy from Penarth and District Ramblers for a three mile evening ramble to Sully Island.

After welcoming those on their first walk with the group they set off from Sully Primary School across the parched grass of the cricket field, where the recent hot weather, wind and lack of rainfall had bleached the grass almost white.

Under a cloudy sky but in humid conditions they joined part of the Wales Coast Path, tramping eastwards past the Sully Sailing Club and the engraved topograph, to walk on beside the playing fields and the sculpture trail to reach a metal gate leading onto Beach Road.

Carefully following the road in single file they reached Swanbridge where people were enjoying a summer evening out at the restaurants and bars. Pausing at the entrance to the Captain’s Wife pub they viewed the traffic light system, installed to warn people of the dangers of crossing to the island and advising them when it is safe to cross, as the RNLI have been called out on numerous occasions to rescue people and people have also drowned.

At least three hours each side of high tide should be left to cross safely as this coastline has the second highest tide in the world and on this occasion the group were crossing when the tide was at its lowest point.

Making their way down onto the rocky foreshore they crossed the uneven causeway with its lovely rock pools, where the dogs could enjoy paddling and avoiding the seaweed they arrived at the western end of the island with its misty views across Sully Bay towards Barry Island.

Clambering over the rocks to gain access to the pathway on the south side of the island which the leader had cleared the day before and making their way to the eastern end of the island, Flat and Steep Holm were lit up by evening sunshine. Steep Holm which is part of Somerset was invaded by the Vikings and in the 12th century a small priory stood, but now it is a bird sanctuary. Whilst Flat Holm is part of Wales, they learned lighthouse was built in 1737 and during the 19th century, a cholera hospital was set up there and these days it is a nature reserve and thriving breeding ground for seagulls.

Gazing back to the mainland at the rock formations at Lavernock and St Mary’s Well Bay they learned the red rock is Triassic and 203 years old, whilst the grey rock is Jurassic and 195 years old, when dinosaurs walked the earth.

Sully village and the island most likely derive their name from Sir Reginald de Sully, one of the twelve knights who accompanied Robert Fitzhamon when the Normans conquered Britain, and was awarded the manor of Sully. The island was visited by the Romans and Vikings and at the eastern end is an Iron Age Fort and during the 13th century it was the haunt of the notorious Alfredo de Marisco, a pirate also known as ‘The Night Hawk.’

Almost three-quarters of the island is now covered with scrub and bushes and making their way back to the reed beds they pushed their way through the tall reeds to reach the foreshore, where the ancient moss covered remains of some of the many ships that met their end on the rocks and sandbanks of the treacherous Bristol Channel lie amongst the rocks.

Returning across the causeway to reach the rocks below the caravan park, four of the group went their separate ways, before a short climb led them back onto the coast path for the return to their start after what had been a delightful adventure, especially for those who had never visited the island before.

You can follow the group at www.penarthramblers.wordpress.com or on Facebook.